"We want to see a successful Wales playing a positive role in the European Union" - Plaid MEP
Speaking ahead of this week's key EU summit in Brussels where Europe's leaders will discuss the long-term EU budget, Plaid MEP Jill Evans has emphasised the importance to Wales of European funding. Research published by the MEP shows that Wales is a net beneficiary from the EU with each individual on average £40 a year better off thanks to European Union membership. Ms Evans called on EU leaders to maintain current spending plans which will help promote economic growth and create jobs in Wales and across Europe.
But the UK government is seeking deep cuts to the EU budget, whilst the EU President has proposed an extra 20 billion euros in cuts on top of 80 billion already proposed. At an earlier summit, a group of the bigger EU member states had wanted an extra 30 billion cut from the budget.
The UK Labour party want even bigger cuts in the overall EU budget, although the Welsh government claim to be opposed.
Wales has benefitted in particular in recent years from billions of pounds in structural funding, and hundreds of millions in agricultural subsidies. Many Welsh students have also been able to study abroad thanks to the EU funded Erasmus scheme, which has also brought many foreign students to Wales.
Jill Evans said:
"Everyone in Wales is around £40 a year better off thanks to our EU membership. We want to see a successful Wales playing a positive role in the European Union. We have benefitted greatly over the years from EU funding and access to the single market. But those benefits will be at risk in future if the overall EU budget is cut as the Tories and Labour propose.
"In fact, Wales could lose out on over a billion pounds over the next seven years.
"We would be particularly vulnerable to cuts in the structural funds, farming subsidies, and funding for research and innovation. There is also growing concern that the Erasmus programme which has helped thousands from Wales study abroad, could face deep cuts.
"It is vital for Wales that we avoid cuts to the EU budget. Any cuts bring about the prospect of a catastrophic lack of support for our poorest areas, for our agricultural industry and for our academic sector. We are entitled to this funding, and we need it now more than ever to help us recover from the economic crisis. Any budget cuts agreed at this week's summit could be disastrous for Wales."